Clinton to meet Saudi king amid Syria, Iran tensions

March 30, 2012 00:19


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RIYADH - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in Saudi Arabia on Friday for talks to weigh limited options available to end the violence in Syria and launch a "strategic forum" with Gulf allies against a backdrop of growing tensions with Iran.

The world's main superpower and its top oil exporter have been strategic allies since the 1940s, but deep disagreements over how to tackle the Arab popular uprisings last year strained the relationship.

Although the two states have mended that rift, differences persist over both regional issues and energy policy, amid US concerns that Saudi Arabia might cut oil output if consumer countries release emergency reserves, neutralizing their effort to bring down oil prices that have soared in recent months.

Topping the agenda at the talks involving Clinton, King Abdullah, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal and other senior Gulf diplomats will be the situation in Syria, which Riyadh sees as a key to the future of the Middle East.

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